Persistence Pays Off in Search of Holland Ancestor

08 Jul

A while back; I met a gentleman at the Allen County Library; who ended up asking for my assistance in trying to locate the parents of one of his ancestors.  Her name was Elizabeth Holland.  Elizabeth was born about 1808; in Tennessee; according to the 1850 Dekalb Co., AL census.  Based on the ages of the children; we knew George and Elizabeth had married “about” 1823 or 1824.  We also knew that George Shankle and family were living in Dekalb the time of the 1840 census.  Additionally; they were found living in Jackson Co., AL in 1830.

It is important to note that Jackson Co., AL borders the state of Tennessee.  Since we knew Elizabeth was born in Tennessee; and also that George was born in Tennessee; it seemed likely that they had married there prior to going to Alabama.  In searching the state wide marriages in Tennessee; a marriage record was never located.  Of course there were many counties in which the early marriage records did not survive.

Where to Begin?

Since the earliest record we had for George and Elizabeth was the 1830 Jackson Co., AL census; I first searched there for any other Shankle’s or Holland’s.  There were a couple of Shankle men nearby; who were of age to be brother’s of George.  So…..  I searched for more information about them.  If I could find the father of any one of them; I would likely find the father of George.

Since I was dealing with an uncommon surname (Shankle); I decided to search all early Tennessee records to see where any Shankle’s may have been prior to 1830.  Interestingly enough; I found a Geogre Shankle listed on the 1820 census in Franklin Co., TN.  This George was old enough to be the father of our George.  And…. he had a male child in the correct age category to be him.  Oh…….  and one more big clue!  Franklin Co., TN borders Jackson Co., AL!

Since this article is about finding the parents of Elizabeth Holland; I won’t explain all the Shankle details. However; with further research; we did determine that it was very likely that this older George Shankle (in Franklin Co., TN in 1820), was very likely the father of our George.

Back to Elizabeth Holland

In searching for clues regarding Elizabeth’s ancestors; I first checked to see if there were other Holland’s who were in Jackson Co., AL in 1830.  In fact; there were a few.  And….. one of them was only a few households away from George and Elizabeth Shankle!

This Holland man living near George and Elizabeth was William Holland.  He was 60-70 years old; placing him born between 1760 and 1770.  I must admit; my first thought was that he was likely the father of Elizabeth.  He was certainly old enough.  However; there was never any other evidence to indicate that he was Elizabeth’s father.  Of course that did not mean he wasn’t.

The Search Continues

So… if I could not find evidence of William being Elizabeth’s father; I decided I needed to search for potential siblings of Elizabeth.  Since George and Elizabeth were living in Dekalb Co., AL in 1840; and Elizabeth was still in Dekalb Co. in 1850 (her husband had died before 1850); I decided to search for other Holland’s there in 1840 and 1850.  None were found there in 1840.  However; at the time of the 1850 census; there were a couple of Holland households there.  One was headed by a Mary Holland; who was apparently widowed.  She was born about 1808 in Tennessee.  The other household was headed by a “Hughey” Holland; who was born about 1802 in Tennessee.  Hughey and Mary were in the same district as Elizabeth Holland Shankle.  Also of importance; was the fact that this Hughey Holland (as well as the widow, Mary Holland) was born in Tennessee. Additionally; Hughey was of an age to be a brother or cousin of Elizabeth Holland.

What Next?

Since I felt Hughey was a good lead; I decided I should try to track him back to Tennessee.  If he was a brother or cousin of Elizabeth; finding where in Tennessee he had come from could be very important and helpful

Now…. I suspected that “Hughey” was almost certainly a nickname for Hugh.  In searching Tennessee records; I found a Hugh Holland listed on the 1837 tax list in Roane Co., TN.  This was most interesting; because the Shankle family had also been there in earlier years.

Having found Hugh in Roane Co., TN; I knew I needed to comb scour the early Roane Co. records for other clues.  Various records showed this Holland family was in Roane Co. as early as 1803.

Now We’re Getting Somewhere!

Feeling more confident that Elizabeth had probably been born in Roane County; I starting taking a serious look at each of the Holland men who were there prior to Elizabeth’s birth (about 1808).  There were really only 2 possibilities.  There was a William Holland; who appeared in early records there; as well as a Peter Holland. Peter stood out!  Elizabeth and George had named one of their oldest sons Peter!  Now this is interesting!

I now needed to know more about Peter.  I found his marriage in Roane Co., TN.  He had married Polly Lea there in 1807.  This could work.  After all; Elizabeth was born about 1808.  She may have been their first child.

So…. I continued to search for Peter.  I found him on the 1820 census of Lincoln Co., TN.  Looking at my map; I realize that Lincoln Co., TN borders Franklin Co., TN.  Remember; Franklin Co., TN is where I found the elder George Shankle in 1820!  And…. both of these counties border Jackson Co., AL; where George and Elizabeth first appear on a census.

More Clues in Lincoln County

Since I had found Peter in Lincoln County; I knew I needed to search records there.  I was hoping to find a will, deed, or something naming his children.  I found none of those.  However; I did find another clue in a Lincoln Co., TN Heritage book.  This book included an article about William Holland.  In reading the article; I quickly realized this was the same William who ended up in Jackson Co., AL; and was living near Elizabeth and George in 1830.

According to this article; William had a son, Peter; who was in Lincoln Co. in 1820 (the same Peter I had found there; who had come from Roane Co.).  However; the article stated that this Peter was born in 1798.  Of course Elizabeth was born about 10 years after that.  The math didn’t work.  Understanding that articles like this often contain errors; I decided I should look further into it.  Although the article claimed that this Peter was born in 1798; he was listed as 26-44 years old in 1820.  That would place him born prior to 1794.  The article also stated that he was in Pope Co., IL by 1830.  So…. I looked for myself.  Sure enough; Peter Holland was in Pope Co., IL in 1830.  His age was 40-49!  This would place him born prior to 1790.  The; I found him in Hardin Co., IL in 1850.  Hardin had been created in 1839, from part of Pope Co.

At the time of the 1850 census; Peter was listed as 62 years old.  This placed his birth as about 1787 or 1788. So…. it became clear to me that the birth year of 1798 in the article was a mistake.  This fellow is definitely old enough to be the same Peter who married Polly Lea in Roane Co., TN in 1807; then moved to Lincoln Co., TN before 1820.


Since I now have very strong evidence that this Peter was the father of Elizabeth; I knew I need to search records in Hardin Co., IL.  Since Peter was 62 years old at the time of the 1850 Hardin Co. census; he likely would have died there.

One of the books I grabbed off the shelves was titled “Early Newspaper Clippings of Hardin County, Illinois (From Uncle George Lavender’s Scrapbooks)”.  In the Foreword of the book; the author states that most of the material is from “Scrap-books” of Uncle George Lavender.  The author also states that most of the newspapers and county records are non-existent.  These items were apparently clipped out of newspapers and such many years earlier, by “Uncle George Lavender”.

I looked at the index of the book.  Although there were no “Holland”‘s listed in the index; there were “Hollen”‘s listed.  Among them was a Peter Hollen.  He was listed on page 176 of this book.  So…. I go to page 176. This item was from Hardin County Circuit Court, Aug. term, 1853.  This is a suit filed by one of the heirs of Peter “Hollen”; with the defendants being other heirs of Peter.  Among those heirs of Peter was “George Shankle and Elizabeth, his wife”!!!

Need I say More?

This was quite a journey.  However; persistence does indeed pay off!  Although I had already gathered strong “evidence” that Peter Holland was the father of Elizabeth; I now have the document which proves it.  In fact; I also have the names of Peter’s other children; thanks to “Uncle George Lavender”!


Posted by on July 8, 2015 in General Genealogy


5 responses to “Persistence Pays Off in Search of Holland Ancestor

  1. Sherry Todd

    July 8, 2015 at 10:40 pm

    Pretty exciting stuff, Rex!! 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  2. Mike Cross

    July 10, 2015 at 2:12 am

    Interesting and informative as always. I do so enjoy your research recaps especially the ones that read like a detective novel (W/o the blood and gore)

  3. Cherry Kinnunen

    July 10, 2015 at 3:04 am

    Great story! Cherry

    Sent from my iPhone

  4. Debby

    September 12, 2015 at 6:18 am

    Thank you for your research data. I am also chasing this HOLLAND line in Roane County, TN.

    • digginbones

      September 12, 2015 at 11:22 am

      Who is your Roane Co. Holland ancestor?


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